Today we celebrate America’s Independence Day with picnics, food, time with family, and fireworks. A multitude of people celebrate without recognizing the great sacrifices that were made in order to gain autonomy from Great Britain. We need to remember the lives that were given, the homes that were burned, and the families that were forever changed when America made her bid for independence.
While I love July 4th, today I want to talk about my own personal Independence Day. It is a day I still remember vividly even though it was many years ago. I came from a good home, but not a home where we learned about Jesus and made faith a foundation. My life changed when a neighbor volunteered to send me to church camp. I had absolutely no idea what church camp was, nor did I understand why I was chosen to be sent since there were six of us children in my family. But God had a plan for my life and he used MacGomery Christian Camp to set me on my path to independence.
I think somehow God wires our DNA with this hole in our hearts that can only be filled with him. So many people spend their whole lives searching for that one thing that makes them whole, while God is waiting and longing for them to let him be the one true way to peace and fulfillment. Deep inside of me was this longing for God. As I heard the Bible taught, as I listened to the prayers being lifted to the heavens, and as I experienced watching people living out their faith during my week at church camp, I recognized that God could fill that hole in my heart.
I don’t remember the exact words of the challenge to give my life to Christ, but I do remember the nudge of the Holy Spirit to take the plunge (literally and figuratively) that would make Jesus my Lord forever and give me my Independence Day. All of the sins I had committed, all of the shame and sorrow from being sexually abused, all of the past was let go the minute I confessed his name as Lord and Savior and was buried in baptism. That was my Independence Day.
I often look at Galatians 5:1 where Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free (meaning free from sin and free from the Jewish law). Stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” I actually like the way The Message puts it: “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” It does my heart good to know the sacrifices that Christ made for my freedom. He left the glory of heaven when he came to earth and walked among man. Despite his miracles, signs and wonders, people still doubted him and mocked him. He freely gave his life on the cross, and took on all of our sins (that is a lot of sin and depravity) and shed his blood as the final sacrifice for us. The cost of our freedom was high so that I could have an Independence Day that set me free.
While I hope you have an awareness and appreciation for our United States Independence Day, I think the Independence Day given to us when we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a true independence that will last forever. So what about you? Have you found your freedom in Christ? I hope so because I think the glories of heaven will far eclipse the awesomeness of fireworks here on earth.